[Foundation-l] bylaws (second call)

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Fri Aug 18 06:06:36 UTC 2006

Elisabeth Bauer wrote:

>Ray Saintonge wrote:
>>I have yet to see a clear rationale for a memberless Foundation.  
>and I have yet to see a clear rationale for a foundation with members.
>For not having members, I see several reasons:
>* adds one more organisational burden on the already strained office 
>resources of the foundation (it would need a membership management then, 
>letters to the members, lots of paperwork)
Not if the bulk of the membership is handled electronically.  Being an 
editor of a WMF project would be a major criterion in determining 

>* what about the chapters? Should their members become automatically 
>members of the Foundation? How do you deal with the injustice of 
>different membership fees then (polish chapter has no fees, germans 
>pay)? Or should they have to choose between single memberships and 
>double memberships? What would be the incentive for becoming a member of 
>a local chapter then?
Chapters can run their own show, and membership (if any) in a chapter is 
determined by that chapter independently of membership in WMF.  Charging 
fees is an option available to a chapter.  The incentive for a local 
chapter is based on activities related to the geographic area in which 
it is situated.

>* How do you deal with the injustice of membership fees in general? One 
>dollar is much more money in Pakistan than in the US...
I have never suggested that the payment of fees should be a significant 
basis for membership.

>* Would people in Pakistan even think of becoming members in an US based 
>foundation? Or would it turn into a totally US centric organization, 
>contrary to its international and multilingual goals?
Ideally I would like to see a jurisdiction for international foundations 
coming under UNESCO, but I can't realistically expect to see that any 
time soon.  The current fact is that we are incorporated in the United 
States, and 60% of our current Board members are United States 
citizens.  What suggestions do you have for making it less US centric?  
At least having a membership base with a majority outside of the US 
could be a beginning.

>and last but not least, what would be the relation between the countless 
>members of the projects and the paying foundation members? Should only 
>the latter have the right to vote for board members and influence 
>foundation decisions?
I think that those who become members by paying a fee will always be a 
minority in relation to those who become members through their editing.  
One member, one vote.

>Originally, I was undecided about the membership issue, but more and 
>more I have the feeling that it would not work well with the 
>organizational structure we developped over the last years.
With due respect, it seems to me that guiding one's actions by the sole 
prospect a being administratively overwhelmed is somewhat defeatist.

>We have a large community from all over the world and they constitute 
>the members of the foundation. 
Under the existing by-laws yes.  I can't see where putting everyone 
under some undefined notion of "Community" will help that.

>If the next board elections show that the 
>community is unable to fullfill this role (by electing someone 
>unsuitable), we can think about a different setup, but honestly, I trust 
>the people to elect a responsible new board member. 
We need to have that trust, but occasionally people do screw up.

>In the future, we'd 
>have to think about how to make sure that the smaller projects get 
>adequate influence and that the foundation is not dominated by the 
>english wikipedia. But even this, I think, is better accomplished by 
>letting members of all projects have their say instead of just those who 
>   bothered to mail a membership form to the foundation and pay 100$.
At this stage it would be enough to ensure that all members as 
individuals are treated equally.  Ensuring the rights of each small 
projects is a different challenge when there are so many of them.


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